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Author Topic: Behaviour modification/Global warming  (Read 5473 times)
RSL
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« Reply #20 on: November 05, 2012, 05:15:04 PM »
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I always thought government put a man on the moon, no? Brought us the Internet, too, no?

Yes, Slobodan, government put a man on the moon at taxpayer expense. Have any idea what didn't happen -- what new thing similar to, say, the cell phone didn't get invented because of the capital taken away from the private sector -- because the government forced taxpayers to put a man on the moon? Of course you haven't. Nobody will ever know.

And the idea that the government invented the internet is absurd. Alore did that. Didn't you hear him say so? I was around through the whole cycle of invention for the internet. I was at NORAD headquarters, working on a survivable means of status reporting in the event of a nuclear attack about the time ARAPANET was put in place. ARAPANET emphatically was NOT the internet. The internet used the framework initially set up by ARAPANET, but Licklider's ideas working through private enterprise at DEC and Xerox created the GUI and what we now know as the internet. The eggheads and their military bosses were dead set against letting the ARAPANET system be used by civilians.
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JBerardi
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« Reply #21 on: November 05, 2012, 05:47:12 PM »
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Yes, Slobodan, government put a man on the moon at taxpayer expense. Have any idea what didn't happen -- what new thing similar to, say, the cell phone didn't get invented because of the capital taken away from the private sector -- because the government forced taxpayers to put a man on the moon? Of course you haven't. Nobody will ever know.

Nothing. Nothing wasn't invented because of the distributed tax burdon associated with the moon landing.
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Isaac
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« Reply #22 on: November 05, 2012, 07:56:40 PM »
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Have any idea what didn't happen... Nobody will ever know.
That's true, there are always opportunity costs -- and there would also have been opportunity costs "because the government [had not] forced taxpayers to put a man on the moon".

the idea the government invented the internet is absurd.
What would even count as "the government invented" or "the corporation invented" -- rather than individuals invented?



ARAPANET emphatically was NOT the internet.

Indeed, ARPANET was a network of computers, not a network of computer networks.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2012, 10:34:17 AM by Isaac » Logged
Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #23 on: November 05, 2012, 10:14:43 PM »
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... And the idea that the government invented the internet is absurd...

From Wikipedia:

"... The origins of the Internet reach back to research of the 1960s, commissioned by the United States government in collaboration with private commercial interests to build robust, fault-tolerant, and distributed computer networks. The funding of a new U.S. backbone by the National Science Foundation in the 1980s, as well as private funding for other commercial backbones, led to worldwide participation in the development of new networking technologies, and the merger of many networks..."

No, I do not believe everything on Wikipedia, but the above sounds reasonable to me, as I never said it was only government.

What is indeed absurd, is your way of looking at things (and I am saying this with all due respect): even when government unquestionably accomplishes something, you say it is bad because somebody, somewhere might have used that money to accomplish something else. I can't argue with that type of speculative reasoning.

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Slobodan

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Ray
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« Reply #24 on: November 06, 2012, 01:42:35 AM »
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No, my comment was simply a reminder that the average is a statistical artifact -- it doesn't tell us about the range of temperatures we actually experience.
 As far as I know, you might think that "advanced, efficient, renewable technology" already has been invented -- I asked for clarification.

Of course it doesn't. We should all know what an 'average' means. However, whatever that mathematically calculated average temperature may be, there will be many locations on the planet where, at certain times of the day, that average temperature is experienced.

What I find disturbing is the presentation as fact, that the idea or hypothesis that such slight increases in average temperatures, possibly due in part to the effects of increases in atmospheric CO2 levels, will lead to more frequent and more severe storms, floods and droughts.

The evidence for this, once again, seems to exist largely in the domain of computer models. The meteorological evidence, as far back as records go, and other records that go back further, do not support it.

As you've probably divined, I'm an AGW skeptic, but not a denier. I think we are barking up the wrong tree if we think we can spend trillions of dollars trying to use CO2 levels as a control knob to make the climate benign. We should instead be spending that money on sensible urban planning that can withstand the sorts of storms and floods that we know from history occur, from time to time, in certain areas.

Unfortunately, we're not good at learning from History. It can take only 2 or 3 generations for people to forget that past events of extreme weather patterns ever occurred. Phrases such as, 'Worst flood in living memory' then have a greater emotional impact. It must be really bad if it's the worst in living memory. What is often not appreciated is that maybe it's not even nearly the worst flood which includes non-living memory. One's great grandfather, or great, great grandfather, probably experienced a worse storm or flood.

If you go back far enough in time you will find reports of floods that appeared to cover the entire known world at the time. I'm thinking of Noah and his ark.  Grin

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As far as I know, you might think that "advanced, efficient, renewable technology" already has been invented -- I asked for clarification.

In a sense it has, but it's still a work in progress. Hydro-electricity can be produced very cheaply, when the conditions are right. But the construction of large dams often creates environmental and socal problems.

Some facts on the cost of clean hydroelectricity:

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"Modern hydro turbines can convert as much as 90% of the available energy into electricity. The best fossil fuel plants are only about 50% efficient. In the US , hydropower is produced for an average of 0.7 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). This is about one-third the cost of using fossil fuel or nuclear and one-sixth the cost of using natural gas," as long as the costs for removing the dam and the silt it traps are not included.


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RSL
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« Reply #25 on: November 06, 2012, 05:26:13 PM »
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From Wikipedia:

"... The origins of the Internet reach back to research of the 1960s, commissioned by the United States government in collaboration with private commercial interests to build robust, fault-tolerant, and distributed computer networks. The funding of a new U.S. backbone by the National Science Foundation in the 1980s, as well as private funding for other commercial backbones, led to worldwide participation in the development of new networking technologies, and the merger of many networks..."

No, I do not believe everything on Wikipedia, but the above sounds reasonable to me, as I never said it was only government.

Yes, Slobodan, but what the government was working on wasn't the internet. When ARAPANET started, landline communications depended on 100 baud teletypes and telephones. The idea was to create what the Wikipedia article calls "fault tolerant" computer networks, meaning storing and switching capabilities that could bypass nodes that were knocked out by an attack. I know, because that's exactly what I was working on at NORAD Hq. I spent a lot of time on a card punch, a card to tape converter, and a tape to card converter, because that was the state of the art at the time. The stuff that led to the internet came along later.

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What is indeed absurd, is your way of looking at things (and I am saying this with all due respect): even when government unquestionably accomplishes something, you say it is bad because somebody, somewhere might have used that money to accomplish something else. I can't argue with that type of speculative reasoning.

There's nothing speculative about that reasoning, Slobodan. All I can suggest is that you take some economics courses from somebody who's not a dedicated Keynesian. Considering the state of education at the moment it may be very hard to find such a course, but it would be worth your while. For starters you might try Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt, which makes very clear why the reasoning you're calling speculative is in no sense speculative.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #26 on: November 06, 2012, 06:04:25 PM »
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... All I can suggest is that you take some economics courses from somebody who's not a dedicated Keynesian. Considering the state of education at the moment it may be very hard to find such a course, but it would be worth your while.

And I thought all this time I got my degree from a school known historically for rejecting Keynesianism (the University of Chicago's school of economics).

However, I'd like to believe the school is also known for being too smart to throw out the baby together with the bath water. Wink

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For starters you might try Economics in One Lesson...

How could I possibly argue with such a deep insight? Wink

EDIT: Coincidentally, did you learn to fly in one lesson too? Wink
« Last Edit: November 07, 2012, 10:57:47 AM by Slobodan Blagojevic » Logged

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NikoJorj
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« Reply #27 on: November 07, 2012, 03:34:24 AM »
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I think we are barking up the wrong tree if we think we can spend trillions of dollars trying to use CO2 levels as a control knob to make the climate benign. We should instead be spending that money on sensible urban planning that can withstand the sorts of storms and floods that we know from history occur, from time to time, in certain areas.
This urban planning is necessary (it's my day job btw), but it may concern essentially richer areas, where there is much more societal demand and financial means for security relative to natural events. Reducing CO2 levels would benefit more widely (but locally less efficiently - one would still need urban planning and other measures).
That sums for me one of the big problems of global warming : consequences are much more likely in poor, tropical or equatorial areas than in richer temperates ones, leading to a lack of incentive for change in in more powerful, richer countries.
 
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Unfortunately, we're not good at learning from History. It can take only 2 or 3 generations for people to forget that past events of extreme weather patterns ever occurred. Phrases such as, 'Worst flood in living memory' then have a greater emotional impact. It must be really bad if it's the worst in living memory. What is often not appreciated is that maybe it's not even nearly the worst flood which includes non-living memory. One's great grandfather, or great, great grandfather, probably experienced a worse storm or flood.
Yes indeed - and even more, you don't take into account conflict of interests that kept family records under secret to keep constructibility rights (real estate interests more exactly) of that family intact, a very common phenomenon here.
The problem is, more basically, that our mind is not well wired to deal with such low-probability / high intensity risks, I'd say we lack the long term vision for that.

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If you go back far enough in time you will find reports of floods that appeared to cover the entire known world at the time. I'm thinking of Noah and his ark.  Grin
That's the problem with these kinds of old historic data : they lack context, precision and reliability. Wink
Here in the Alps, we very seldom can use data before XIXth century (and feel already lucky if we have some reliable data of that time).

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Hydro-electricity can be produced very cheaply, when the conditions are right. But the construction of large dams often creates environmental and socal problems.
Yes indeed once more. It's hard to conceive dealing with global warming without at least evoking nuclear energy.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2012, 03:37:27 AM by NikoJorj » Logged

Nicolas from Grenoble
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Isaac
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« Reply #28 on: November 07, 2012, 12:13:02 PM »
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...but what the government was working on wasn't the internet. ... The idea was to create ... "fault tolerant" computer networks... The stuff that led to the internet came along later.

Yes, you're correct, the US government wasn't working on the commercial Internet, back in the '60s.

You explain the military motivation behind store and forward (packet switched) communication networks, but then don't acknowledge that the commercial Internet still operates across packet switched networks.

Yes, more stuff that led to the commercial Internet came along later at ARPA -- for example TCP/IP, the basic networking protocols used across the commercial Internet were developed in the '70s for ARPA.




"The Internet that many of us take for granted today arose from
a series of government-funded computer networking efforts, not
 the least of which was NSFNET."
« Last Edit: November 07, 2012, 05:43:20 PM by Isaac » Logged
jeremypayne
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« Reply #29 on: November 07, 2012, 12:34:32 PM »
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"The Internet that many of us take for granted today arose from
a series of government-funded computer networking efforts, not
 the least of which was NSFNET."

http://www.amazon.com/Where-Wizards-Stay-Up-Late/dp/0684832674

Great book on the story.
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Isaac
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« Reply #30 on: November 19, 2012, 10:40:40 AM »
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Scroll down page and enjoy the photo titled "A solar power plant in Morocco uses mirrors to concentrate rays from the sun"
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niznai
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« Reply #31 on: November 21, 2012, 10:00:31 PM »
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As usual, Ray, it'll be the dramatically rising coal and oil prices that will lead to advanced, efficient, renewable technology, not anything the government does. It's abundantly clear the answer doesn't lie in windmills or solar panels. The earth hasn't enough surface for that. The solution will be something different, brought on by the free market. I haven't a clue what it'll be, but I always come back to the story I once read about the distant future, written in the fifties, where a guy was flying around in his flying car and needed to make a phone call, so he landed next to a phone booth. If we were depending on the government for communications we'd still be using phone booths.

I think both above statements are wrong.

the government can tax fossil fuels into oblivion if they so choose. The moment a majority subset of the population will be convinced fossil fuels are bad, they'll vote in that government.

Second statement is wrong and you can see that from first principles. All the energy we use here (bar nuclear and geothermal) is solar energy. There simply is no other source we have access to. I agree with you if you are going to say, hang on a second, fossil fuels are solar energy integrated over time, yes that is true. But the surface of the planet is enough to capture enough solar power to put all other sources out of business (yearly energy received from the sun is apparently 10E24 Joules, we use - at 2008 levels - 0.4*10E21 Joules per year). The real problem is most of that power would be produced in Australia, parts of Africa and South america, so you need rather long cables and some nifty distribution systems. Plus, you can't take it on board your car that easily. Yet.

All that aside, and pathologic paranoia notwithstanding, nuclear energy is the future and reserve levels are best (Wikipedia says about twice as much energy estimated to exist in reserves of radioactive material as everything fossil put together, including methane clathrates whenever they become a viable alternative to harvest). BAseload power no longer a problem then. And what about cars/mobile devices that need energy? Well, that has been done already. Think about it. If you proposed today to build a mechanical device that uses controlled explosion of a highly flammable liquid inside to produce work you'd be locked up in the nuthouse. Thankfully, the internal combustion engine was created in times of no PC, no nanny state, no OH&S paranoia. Once we find a way to circumvent this plague, we'll have cars powered by little nuclear reactors like the Curiosity rover. Imagine that. A car with basically service free engine for life (and a long life at that, about 50 years if the right isotope is used). Mechanics are going to hate it, car manufacturers are going to hate it (what? sell each person one car in 50 years?!!), I know, but you'll love it.

So you see, there are alternatives. But as long as people think like our friend quoted above, they'll vote governments that will preserve the status quo, will deny anthropic impact on environment so they don't have to tax the polluters (normally generous contributors to political campaigns and such) to levels that would put all energy sources on even footing in competing for our money. That is why fossil fuels are competitive. True, we also have about 200 years' worth of industrial infrastructure geared to make use of fossil fuels.

So you see, my friend, a lot of what happens is due to governments' intervention or lack thereof. Just briefly, one example is nuclear power plants working the 230Th cycle. This has been known a long time ago, they just didn't get anywhere because you don't get the weapons' grade spent radioactive material (they actually consume weapon grade material something which current designs based on Uranium can't do) out of them. Needless to say which government made the decision to pursue the U cycle and of course everybody else felt the need to have their own. Be careful when you vote and be more generous. By contrast with US governments, others have decided to do what is best for the global future rather than what is best right now for the minority that got them there. Perhaps some people need a paradigm shift.
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Justinr
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« Reply #32 on: November 22, 2012, 02:39:54 AM »
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Whenever talk comes round to economics it is always Smith and Keynes who are dragged into the arena as if they are the north and south, dark and light of economic theory with no space for any alternative, you are either one or the other. Funny thing is though that there was a fellow called Friedrich List who although German in origin did much of his work in America - Friedrich_List. The German economy as well as those of many Asian countries owe more to his thinking than either of our two heroes mentioned above and it really doesn't seem to be doing them any harm. Perhaps we should expand our thinking.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2012, 02:43:00 AM by Justinr » Logged

Adam L
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« Reply #33 on: November 29, 2012, 11:25:36 AM »
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Can I stop worring about Acid Rain and Cloroflorcarbons now?
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kikashi
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« Reply #34 on: November 29, 2012, 12:07:51 PM »
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Can I stop worring about Acid Rain and Cloroflorcarbons now?

No, I think you should carry on. Worrying about a problem is an awfully good way of solving it, as my wife occasionally reminds me.

Jeremy
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Isaac
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« Reply #35 on: November 29, 2012, 12:35:18 PM »
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Can I stop worrying about Acid Rain and Cloroflorcarbons now?

I wonder what prompted that question?

Acid Rain - No.

Cloroflorcarbons - Somewhat.

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RSL
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« Reply #36 on: November 29, 2012, 02:29:55 PM »
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I think both above statements are wrong.

the government can tax fossil fuels into oblivion if they so choose. The moment a majority subset of the population will be convinced fossil fuels are bad, they'll vote in that government.

And at that moment all commerce will stop, people in the cities will starve, and people will be unable to watch their favorite TV programs. There's no way a politician would be dumb enough to do this, even though when you look at politicians you'd find that hard to believe.

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Second statement is wrong and you can see that from first principles. All the energy we use here (bar nuclear and geothermal) is solar energy. There simply is no other source we have access to. I agree with you if you are going to say, hang on a second, fossil fuels are solar energy integrated over time, yes that is true. But the surface of the planet is enough to capture enough solar power to put all other sources out of business (yearly energy received from the sun is apparently 10E24 Joules, we use - at 2008 levels - 0.4*10E21 Joules per year). The real problem is most of that power would be produced in Australia, parts of Africa and South america, so you need rather long cables and some nifty distribution systems. Plus, you can't take it on board your car that easily. Yet.

All true, and all irrelevant. Data on yearly energy from the sun is interesting but meaningless unless you have an effective way to trap it. Neither windmills nor solar panels fill the bill, and putting a windmill on your car seems, at best, unlikely to be effective. Heat in the bowels of the earth probably could keep us all warm until the sun novas, but nobody's figured out how to tap that source either. Presumably, tapping it would require a much smaller surface footprint than would windmills or solar panels. All we need is a tap that doesn't dissolve instantly when installed.

Quote
All that aside, and pathologic paranoia notwithstanding, nuclear energy is the future and reserve levels are best (Wikipedia says about twice as much energy estimated to exist in reserves of radioactive material as everything fossil put together, including methane clathrates whenever they become a viable alternative to harvest). BAseload power no longer a problem then. And what about cars/mobile devices that need energy? Well, that has been done already. Think about it. If you proposed today to build a mechanical device that uses controlled explosion of a highly flammable liquid inside to produce work you'd be locked up in the nuthouse. Thankfully, the internal combustion engine was created in times of no PC, no nanny state, no OH&S paranoia. Once we find a way to circumvent this plague, we'll have cars powered by little nuclear reactors like the Curiosity rover. Imagine that. A car with basically service free engine for life (and a long life at that, about 50 years if the right isotope is used). Mechanics are going to hate it, car manufacturers are going to hate it (what? sell each person one car in 50 years?!!), I know, but you'll love it.

On this we agree completely.

Quote
So you see, there are alternatives. But as long as people think like our friend quoted above, they'll vote governments that will preserve the status quo, will deny anthropic impact on environment so they don't have to tax the polluters (normally generous contributors to political campaigns and such) to levels that would put all energy sources on even footing in competing for our money. That is why fossil fuels are competitive. True, we also have about 200 years' worth of industrial infrastructure geared to make use of fossil fuels.

So you see, my friend, a lot of what happens is due to governments' intervention or lack thereof. Just briefly, one example is nuclear power plants working the 230Th cycle. This has been known a long time ago, they just didn't get anywhere because you don't get the weapons' grade spent radioactive material (they actually consume weapon grade material something which current designs based on Uranium can't do) out of them. Needless to say which government made the decision to pursue the U cycle and of course everybody else felt the need to have their own. Be careful when you vote and be more generous. By contrast with US governments, others have decided to do what is best for the global future rather than what is best right now for the minority that got them there. Perhaps some people need a paradigm shift.


But on this we don't. Most of what DOESN'T happen is due to government intervention, my friend, and neither Europe nor California has a clue "what is best for the global future." Yes, some people need a paradigm shift, and considering where we are at the moment it's clear they'll soon get it, good and hard.
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Isaac
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« Reply #37 on: November 29, 2012, 03:07:45 PM »
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Heat in the bowels of the earth probably could keep us all warm until the sun novas, but nobody's figured out how to tap that source either.

Nesjavellir Geothermal Plant

Icelandic Deep Drilling Project
« Last Edit: November 29, 2012, 03:14:58 PM by Isaac » Logged
RSL
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« Reply #38 on: November 29, 2012, 05:08:10 PM »
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Right, Isaac, I know about these. But nobody's figured out how to make these techniques produce enough energy at a reasonable cost to do the job. But I'm sure, once the prices of our traditional fossil energy sources get high enough, that private enterprise will find an alternative, just as private enterprise has increased oil and gas production in the U.S. beyond all recent imagination, not only with no help from the government, but with extreme disincentives from the government.
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Isaac
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« Reply #39 on: November 29, 2012, 07:36:54 PM »
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But nobody's figured out how to make these techniques produce enough energy at a reasonable cost to do the job.

It's not at all clear to me whether you're commenting about the operation of that particular power plant in Iceland or whether you're commenting about the use of geothermal power to do some other "job" or ... or how unlikely it is that anyone would be allowed to tap the geothermal resources of Yellowstone NP.

"Calpine has more than 300 employees at The Geysers, where it operates 15 geothermal plants generating about 725 megawatts."
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